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“It is a huge risk at this stage, but I am determined, and I don’t have a plan B.”

An Industrial Odyssey: The Evolution of James Cowden’s Artistry

In Sydney, Australia, resides 61-year-old James Cowden, an artist whose journey is steeped in creative evolution. For four and a half decades, Cowden immersed himself in the world of motor mechanics, establishing and running his own business for 38 of those enriching years. Immersed in the universe of race and performance street cars, he adeptly designed and crafted parts, predominantly from aluminum and stainless steel. The artist’s skills in this domain are self-taught, demonstrating a remarkable capacity for autodidactic learning.

Since childhood, Cowden has harbored an appreciation for art and design, once aspiring to architecture during his school years. Although his path diverged from this initial ambition, his enthusiasm for artistic expression remained undeterred. James dedicated himself to sculpting and producing lighting fixtures for many years, occasionally selling his masterpieces to admirers. His mechanical background deeply infused his art, bestowing it with an unmistakably industrial aesthetic. The artist’s partiality for aluminum is evident, with its versatility greatly influencing his work.

James Cowden: Embracing Artistic Ambitions

Approaching his 60th year, Cowden opted for a transformative decision: to transition entirely from automotive pursuits and dedicate himself to art. The subsequent 18 months saw him transform his repair shop into a vibrant studio gallery, displaying his unique creations. The gallery stands as a testament to his unwavering dedication to artistic endeavors, as James remains resolute in his commitment to his craft.

A pivotal dialogue regarding life’s impermanence and financial matters prompted Cowden to contemplate a transition to creating art lamps full time by the age of 65. Upon reflection, he acknowledged the inherent risk but chose to embrace the venture wholeheartedly, treating it as a business without any fallback. The artist’s creations, often marrying industrial materials with a softened, funky aesthetic, span themes from oceanic creatures to architectural and spacecraft-inspired pieces. Living close to the sea subtly influences his work, aligning with local tastes. With a plethora of ideas awaiting realization, the artist is fervently poised to bring them to fruition.

James Cowden: Crafting a Haven

In the heart of his creative abode, James Cowden’s workspace radiates with illumination from 47 downlights, casting a glow over a generously proportioned bench that he occasionally yearns to be even more expansive. An entire wall within his sanctuary is dedicated to an array of tools and components, meticulously organized to ensure every necessity is conveniently accessible. Cowden cherishes solitude when engrossed in intricate tasks, yet his studio warmly welcomes visitors for rejuvenating interactions. This serene environment starkly contrasts with his past experiences in the automotive industry, where anxiety and time constraints were constant companions.

Cowden’s artistic style can be described as eclectic, granting him the liberty to traverse diverse themes and mediums without confinement to a singular influence. He discerns value in artworks for various elements—be it color, balance, subject matter, or the artist’s distinctive style—irrespective of the artist’s prominence. Among his cherished possessions is a 1910 watercolor by Joseph Thornley, bequeathed by his grandmother. This heirloom, having journeyed through numerous homes and nations, evokes treasured memories and now adorns Cowden’s wall.

Metal and Memory: The Intersection of Heritage and Passion

Cowden’s predilection for metal as his chosen medium can be traced to his engineering background and familial influences. His father, a joiner, had a collection of woodworking tools, but James found himself gravitating towards metalwork. Embarking on motor racing at 18, he commenced crafting parts, honing his capabilities. Eventually, ownership of a fully-equipped factory facilitated his pursuit of art. The artist skillfully taught himself to morph flat sheets into three-dimensional shapes. While painting holds a place in his heart, he generously gifts his creations to discerning admirers, and holds particular admiration for Carlos Almaraz’s car crash series.

Experimentation forms the core of Cowden’s work, evident in his exploration of combining stacked glass, bronzed metal, and aluminum within a mining theme. To manage his creative flow, a three-column list detailing ideas, works in progress, and completed projects adorns his wall, ensuring that no spark of inspiration is lost in the ebb and flow of creation.

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